Monday, 2 April 2012

What's in a (blog) name?

Yikes. Here we are, or, at least – here I am. My first solo, independent blog.

I’ve played this blog thing before, a couple of times actually. The first one was with one of my writing groups, but I didn’t know how to work the machine room side of things, and got kinda lost. Blog two was, and still is, something I write alongside my co-consipiritor and favourite friend, Kylie Fox. Together, we go by the pseudonym of A.K. Wrox. A.K’s blog is linked to our author website:

The suckiest thing about a new blog, is figuring out what to write about the first time you post. Should I try to write something profound; something funny; a deep, dark, terrible secret (or not); give a boring writerly update; or... maybe I’ll just give an insight into the title of this new venture?
I love Willow trees, particularly the weeping kind. I have done ever since I can remember.

My paternal grandparents lived at a dairy farm at Katunga, in central Victoria. My Dad grew up there, and we spent long weekends and school holidays visiting his childhood home. ‘Yen-Trah’, as the farm was known (our family name spelt backwards, *groan*) was about forty acres, but we didn’t venture far past the deep, always-green lawn at the rear of the old farmhouse, mostly for fear of snakes. If Dad took us with him, we were allowed to explore the dairy, the irrigation channel to fish for yabbies, the old stables and enormous hay sheds. But mostly, we hung out on the lawn that was split down the middle by a perfectly straight concrete path, laid by my grandmother, who we called Nin.

That path led to one thing – the willow tree, my Pa’s pride and joy. It was huge, soft and cool, with a single bench seat set underneath the flowing fronds of leaves. Pa used to clip the bottom of those fronds when they got too long, giving the tree the appearance it had been dined on by roaming cattle. I never saw Pa clipping the tree, and it wasn’t until I was much older that my Dad explained this was why it grew the way it did.

Nin and Pa’s farm was surreal, a world away from home for this suburban kid. There was an outdoor dunny that terrified me, canaries in an avery that sang beautiful songs, young heifers lowing over the barbed wire fence, eager for a scratch behind their ears or a handful of hay. A maze of the tastiest string beans grew along one side of the house, directly over the septic tank and a concrete crocodile adorned the strip of stone garden. My sister and I slept in old, creaky beds that once belonged to my Dad and his brother, and Nin made six meals a day, all home baked, all dripping with lard and sugar.

But it’s still the willow I remember most. It’s decades now since Nin and Pa left the farm, and many years since they both passed away. The tree has stayed with me, as a symbol of the most perfect, peaceful place I can think of; somewhere to sit, think, and imagine stories and people that existed nowhere but in my own mind, and those of my imaginary audience who would listen, enthralled in the tales I told them. The willow tree is that special place that holds the key to my imaginings and wanderings, where my stories are born and nurtured.

Just don’t ask me how most of those stories end up being about monsters and murderers, brain matter and blood....


  1. Bravo Mandy. A beautiful tale to begin your blog. You go girl!

  2. Interesting and as always, well written Mandy. There is something special about a willow tree! We used to use them to swing off and drop into the creek lol.

  3. Love it!! I grew up on farms with willow trees growing along the channel banks,in the paddocks as wind breaks and shade for the cows. I used to break a willow switch off to shoo the flies off my back as I helped walked the cows back to the dairy. Reading your blog bought back those memories...thanks Mandy.

  4. Thanks Angela, Chele and Deb. Now to try and figure out the technical side of this thing... :)